The Trial of True Love: a Novel by William Nicholson
"People use a conventional metaphor for falling in love at first sight. They say, "I was struck by lightning." I am in the position of a man who wishes to be struck by lightning and so walks about hatless in storms."
At age 30 Bron is a man, as they say, "in-between relationships." Living with his best friend Anna, who also happens to be his former girlfriend, he's working on a book on the topic of first love, and whether or not love at first sight truly does exist.
Little did he realize, love was about to come to him. Love came in the form of a beautiful, blonde, willowy and very mysterious woman, who also happened to be married, though unhappily. Her name, appropriately enough, is Flora. Bron comes upon her unexpectedly, while out walking near the summer home of a friend at whose home the two of them were both staying. Bron sees her, through the mist:
"And I, I fell in love at first sight. At the age of almost thirty, never having known since adolescence an unqualified desire, I dropped like an amateur skydiver from a plane, turning over into the helpless equilibrium of free fall."
Love is seldom simple, and this is even more the case when one of the two parties is already married. Add to that the fact one of the two, in this case Flora, remains aloof, unwilling to commit to any romantic feeling, despite sending out signals she's very interested, indeed. Bron finds himself in pursuit of his love, yet, at the same time, frustrated by her apparent rejection of him. The mixed signals drive him nearly mad, but despite it all he never doubts he's completely in love with Flora.
In the course of researching the French artist Paul Marotte, a man who'd experienced a rather spectular story of love at first sight, Bron finds himself in the city where Flora and her husband live. A local expert on Marotte also happens to be acquainted with Flora, and agrees to pass along a message to her, begging her to see Bron before he runs out of money and must return to England. But beneath all her vacillations, Flora hides a devastating secret, one that may, in the end, threaten the love that Bron feels for her.
Truly a lovely book, so well written. This is a such a deeply thought out book on the subject of the nature of true and lasting love, and love at first sight, written in extremely graceful, assured prose. The story, like the course of love itself, careens from twist to twist. Ultimately the reader may still not be positive on the topic of love at first sight, but the potential for love to conquer all will be made very clear.